I was lucky enough to spend a few days with one of these monitors, and put its various uses up to the test. I usually run with a LG Flatron M227WDPat 24″ which is a TV that I use as a monitor, so this was quite a sizable upgrade to deal with. Pretty soon after I plugged it in I knew I very much enjoyed it and that is a thing of beauty in many ways – but it is definitely a luxury.
With it obviously not being a standard 1080p ratio, it handled the standard 16×9 consoles nicely, but if you look closely then you can make out the stretch. How much you notice the stretch will depend on what you are mainly using the monitor for. For instance, Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U is a gorgeous game to begin with but the extra width does make it seem like you have more space when you play 4 player – even though it is just stretched out more instead.
Films, whether they are via Netflix or by Blu-ray etc, have the same stretch to them and, again, depending on what you’re watching you might notice it more than you otherwise would. I personally wasn’t particularly bothered by the stretch; Always Sunny in Philadelphia looked fine, (if a little stretched). Planet Earth on Blu-ray however was unnoticeable to me and was a pretty beautiful sight to see on a screen of that width.
Gaming on the PC has mixed results. I took a trip through my Steam library, picking games that should support it and only a few of those did. Skyrim for instance didn’t have the option for it or at least wasn’t immediately apparent. Some games needed a little coaxing before the resolution even appeared as an option – Warframe being one of them. Others like The Walking Dead supported the resolution, but didn’t fill the screen entirely lengthways. The picture would sit central but you’d have a little bit of black screen either side of the picture.
While Walking Dead does support this res, those black side bars meant that there were a few graphical glitches appearing either side (though thankfully only in the menus). It’s not the only game that couldn’t handle the game without glitching out graphically. Some games had blurry writing where the words were produced as a graphic rather than taken from a font; some had tooltips that appeared blank; and a few other minor issues appeared here and there between the different games tried.
One game stood out as perfect for the screen – Borderlands 2. It supports the resolution perfectly, it looks simply amazing; it’s detailed, colours pop, the resolution allows a higher field of view without worry of messing with sliders in the menu. It breathed new life into a game that I put down some months back. Admittedly I have upgraded to a DX11 compatible graphic card (GeForce GTX 760), which already adds many detailed special effects not present in console or PCs not running the game in DX11.
The monitor also has speakers which may or may not be a novelty for you, but if you don’t use a dedicated sound system or headphones/set, then those built into the monitor are pretty capable. The sound quality is fairly reasonable; it’s clear, though perhaps a little hollow, as there isn’t any bass at all. You only have volume control and no other options, so if you need your sound to be high quality then you are still better off with dedicated sound, even if it’s just a good pair of headphones.
The lack of remote does come into play here, more so when it’s used for non-PC related tasks as you will have to get up and adjust the volume manually as well as changing inputs. Obviously this isn’t perfect if you want to use it for games and TV from couch-watching distance. Again, I’d recommend a separate sound system if you are the type that would find it to be anything more than a minor annoyance. Changing input is something that is usually a less frequent task, but the monitor has a particularly nice feature that is a bit of a workaround for dual input situations.
PBP is a mode that allows you to have two inputs displayed side by side on the screen at the same time. It does only allow for one sound input though, so you can’t have two things running at once in the same way as having two screens side by side. This is another argument for perhaps getting a secondary sound system, but obviously more planning would have to go into that.
Running two things on one screen is great, but you already have to be switching between inputs constantly or have another specific use ready for it to be worth using. PC resolutions will have to be exactly halved to get the proper ratio for this, but consoles will have to run either with black bars over the top and bottom or a vertically stretched view. While it is a useful feature it isn’t without flaw. There isn’t an easy way to swap which input is on what side. You have to exit PBP mode, set the main input as the secondary input, then re-enable the PBP mode in order to swap sides.
Let’s be honest; this screen is something that gamers, particularly student gamers, will be drawn to. Local co-op has been stripped from many a game this generation but online co-op flourishes. The screen almost seems designed to allow for co-op to exist in a new form. The idea of having two computers running through one screen so that you can play co-op in the room together might seem excessive (and in many ways it is), but if you are a student living in shared accommodation, then this could be a good alternative to two screens in one room. The sound for the second player would be an issue but it’s something that has a workaround.
Screen Split is a feature that comes bundled on a disc and is compatible with all screens. Basically it allows you to customise your desktop, with the ability to resize any windows you have open into a set size and position, allowing you to have multiple windows to look over simultaneously. Even on the Ultrawide monitor it feels like a defunct application. Windows already allows you to have things on both sides and the more windows you have open, the less space you have to see what is in said windows. It probably does have some useful applications but not any that are immediately useful or apparent.
There were a few things I didn’t test, but that was due to me lacking the equipment to do so. There is a Thunderbolt™ 2 port in the back as well as a DisplayPort connection. I tested neither but the Thunderbolt port is apparently able to support 4K resolution. Also, as I lack the Xbox One and PS4, I couldn’t advise as to whether the monitor resolution is supported by either of those.
One set of things that it did lack was SCART, component, VGA and DVI ports. While the more TV-centric ports I can understand being left out – as with the VGA – DVI is something that I assumed would still be used in something made for PC gaming. You can use a DVI to HDMI converter, but the resolution might not be compatible with the native 3440×1440.
As for games there were a few genres that should be good for the resolution that I didn’t have access to. Driving and flight simulation games should be better with the added width, giving you more to see on screen at once. The closet I came to either was Mario Kart 8 and Strike Suit Zero respectively. Neither of which has the simulation-type properties that the screen would enhance, but both still looked brilliant – Mario Kart especially, even in 4 player split screen.
As a physical product it takes up quite a large area for space in terms of width, but even with the glass base attached the depth of the monitor is very small. The height is very similar to smaller monitors as well, thanks to there being very little to it other than the screen. The stand is sturdy, has two height settings so you can lower/raise the screen by a fraction if you want more/less space. Lastly the screen looks pretty impressive; it’s sleek, shiny and has a lot of presence in the room it’s in.
As I’ve already mentioned this is definitely a luxury monitor; there are very few instances where this ratio is needed for any particular reason. That’s not to say it isn’t worth getting, because I know that I’d definitely be tempted to get this over a more commonly sized screen, but price is definitely a factor. Sitting around the £1000 mark it’s a great option if you have the money to spend, but it’s by no means something to aspire to if you’re on a budget.
Whether you could get more out of your gaming with it depends entirely on the support given. It’s a lovely screen and great for games that support it, but you’ll have to be willing to swallow the price tag.
List of 3440×1440(21:9) games I played on PC:
- Borderlands 2: My notes from playing, it says “My God does it look good”
- Age Of Wonders 3: Black text boxes, minor graphical glitches, blurred text on buttons
- League of Legends: Looks great but resizing had a few issues when downgrading resolution
- Red Orchestra Rising Storm: Supports resolution, looked pretty
- Chivalry: My first time with the graphical overhaul, so it looked amazing but I did come across a few graphical glitches
- Walking Dead Season 2: Lovely but black bars either side as it wasn’t designed for such a wide screen
- Guild Wars 2: Beautiful as always
- Payday 2: Again the extra space was very nice to get to grips with what’s happening around you